Big Data Startup AtScale Brings On Star CEO
AtScale, a Silicon Valley startup that quickly made its mark on the industry with a roster of prestigious enterprise clients, is bringing on a new CEO with plans to tap the channel to scale the business further.
Chris Lynch, a prominent Boston-based technology leader, experienced CEO, former Hewlett-Packard exec and investor in big data companies, will take the helm of the San Mateo, Calif.-based startup that helps large enterprises glean business intelligence from massive data sets.
Outgoing CEO Dave Mariani, who founded AtScale to solve an analytics headache he encountered when running the central data group at Yahoo!, will remain at the company and focus on leading its technical efforts.
Lynch said he reluctantly agreed to leading another company because of the opportunity he saw at AtScale to become a billion-dollar business and lead an emerging multi-billion-dollar industry.
"One of the things I find most attractive about AtScale is they can have a massive impact on people's ability to drive big data workloads to the cloud, but they do it in a non-disruptive way."
While his previous companies challenged the big players in their markets to steal share, AtScale is complementary to the ecosystem of cloud, business intelligence and data warehousing vendors, making it "a perfect partnership play."
Over the next six months, Lynch will reveal moves to form alliances in cloud and data ecosystems—both directly with the vendors and indirectly with their largest channel partners, he told CRN.
"Anybody focusing on bringing customers to cloud, they'll want to be taking a look at what we do," Lynch told CRN. "Anyone reselling traditional BI or data warehousing tools is going to want to figure out a way to partner with us."
With a direct go-to-market model, AtScale has won more than 40 enterprise customers, including JP Morgan Chase, Wells Fargo, Visa, Toyota, Aetna, and Dell Technologies.
But it's time to leverage the channel to grow faster, Lynch said, and he's got the experience to do that.
"I know what partners are looking for. I know how they are going to become sustainable," he said, noting companies his venture firm invested in, like Carbon Black, are almost entirely channel oriented.
"I'll be working on a way to come up with a robust partner program that incentivizes people to create and fulfill demand with customers," he said.
The name-brand clients, some of the biggest companies in the world, have proven the value of that solution for channel partners. But only partners can underpin a go-to-market model more efficient than what the company has done on its own, Lynch told CRN.
"I understand the power and leverage of channel. I want to invest our money in continuing to build out this unique IP that's highly differentiated, and then invest modestly in enabling the distribution," Lynch said.
Eight years ago, AtScale founder David Mariani was an advertising and analytics engineering manager at Yahoo!
The giant Internet portal's big data needs were unique, and Mariani saw that relational databases didn't scale to meet them. The invention of Hadoop addressed some of those problems, but that framework didn't work at all as a business intelligence tool.
To compensate, Mariani's team at Yahoo! spent a lot of time moving data around, "making big data small."
He founded AtScale in 2013 to create a solution he couldn't find on the market.
AtScale's enterprise customers "all basically had the same problem that I had at Yahoo!," Mariani told CRN.
"How do I make data work in this new environment when people want to move from these older data platforms to a new data platform or trying to move from on-prem to the cloud? How do you make it work for all these different users without having to make the business understand where it's being stored and how it's being stored?"
To solve those challenges, AtScale provides an abstraction layer that connects traditional and cloud data platforms, including Hadoop clusters, with business intelligence tools Tableau and QlikView, to enable access and analysis of massive data stores.
Now that the company has proven the value of its technology, it was time for a CEO to drive the business in its next phase.
"I really wanted to find someone who was the compliment for me on the tech side, on the go-to-market side, and who not only was accomplished at taking company's public, but also has an entourage and a network they can bring to bear in the company that can help us partner and attract the best people we can," Mariani said of Lynch.
Lynch ran Hewlett-Packard's Database Business Unit, then went into the venture capital arena as a general partner at Cambridge, Mass.-based Accomplice.
On the non-profit side, Lynch helped spawn hack/reduce and hack/secure to nurture the Boston region's big data and cybersecurity communities.
Lynch formally starts his new position in early July.